Below is a guide to the definitions of printing terms, this can also be found on our blog - Royale Graphics Blog

Please feel free to let us know of any printing terms you'd like adding or explaining.


A Sizes – Most common paper size used for general printing of stationery. For example A4 is used for letterheads.

Artwork – Usually supplied in electronic format, this is the type, photos, images etc. which make up what will be printed.

A/W – Abbreviation for artwork.

Authors Corrections – Changes made by the customer to the artwork. These are charged to the customer.


B Sizes – Larger than A sizes, most machines are based on taking this oversized sheet size.

Binding – Process of fastening papers together.

Bleed – The printed image extends beyond the trim edge of a sheet or page. It is not possible to print all the way to the edge of the paper sheets. To achieve this effect it is necessary to print a larger area than is required and then trim the paper down to the correct size. An allowance is made (usually 3mm) to make trimming easier.

Board – While there is no agreed rule, paper exceeding 170gsm is usually classed as board.

Bond Paper – A basic uncoated paper, often used for copying or laser printers. The better quality bond paper can be used for letterheads etc.


C Sizes – These sizes relate to envelope sizes and are suitable for enclosing stationery in the A sizes.

Case Bound – A hardback made with stiff outer covers. Case bound books are usually covered with cloth, vinyl or leather.

CBS1 Material – This is the security material that all cheques need to be printed on.

CMYK – Letters which stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K). Full colour printing is usually made up of these component colours.

Coated Stock – Paper which has a coating. It can be gloss, silk or matt and is suitable for jobs requiring a fine finish such as colour brochures.

Coating – A special water based coating which is applied to printed matter to protect literature from ink smudging or finger marking or to enhance appearance. The main types are sealer, gloss, matt and silk. Coatings are commonly used on matt or silk coated paper as these types are more prone to smudging than gloss coated paper. The main difference between a varnish and a coating is that coatings are faster drying and therefore jobs can be turned around quicker.

Collating – Arranging of printed sheets into the desired sequence.

Colour Separation – Process by which an image is separated into the four colours for full colour print production.

Crop – The method of trimming the print to the required finished size.

Crop Marks – Printed lines on the edge of the paper for indicating where the paper should be cut to produce the correct page size.


Die–cut – A shape cut from the card or paper using a cutting forme.

Digital Printing – Printing direct from the computer usually in full colour without the need for plates. Digital printing is faster and more cost effective for small/medium print runs. Digital printing is also used to print self adhesive labels.

Dots per Inch (DPI) – Indicates the resolution of images. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution and the better quality of image.


Embossing – The process of raising letters or designs on card or paper already printed.

EPS File – Encapsulated Postscript File. This is a file format which can be read across different programs on MAC or PC computers.


File format – The type of computer file that the artwork is saved as. Examples include JPEG, EPS or PDF.

Finishing – Any process which follows the actual printing. Can include folding, creasing, stitching, binding etc.

Font – A set of letters, numbers and symbols that share a unified design. Also referred to as a typeface.

Four Colour Process – Printing using four constituent colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black or CMYK.


GSM – Grams per square metre. This is the standard measure of paper weight (ie 90gsm, 170gsm, 350gsm).


JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group. A common type of file format for image files.


Laminating – A thin plastic film used on the covers of printed literature to give protection. This can be gloss or matt, not to be confused with encapsulating which leaves a clear border and is much thicker.

Lithographic (Litho) printing – A printing process by which the inked image to be printed is transferred (offset) first to a rubber blanket before coming into contact with the paper, which takes up the inked areas.


Machine Fold – The process of mechanically folding printed paper.

Machine Varnish – A general varnish applied to printed literature to protect or seal against smudging or finger marking.


Origination – All the items needed to put together and print the job eg. Artwork, photography, typesetting etc.

Overs – The extra printed products delivered to a customer over and above the net amount ordered. Printers try to allow extra sheets for set-up purposes and deliver more rather than just ending up short on a job.


PDF – Portable Document Format. The industry standard for saving files in an acceptable format. Quick, cheap and increasingly stable. A PDF is often used for viewing proofs and for supply of final artwork.

Perfecting Binding – Pages of a book which are glued together to give a square spine.

Perforation – Running a dotted score into paper to allow the paper to be pulled apart.

Personalisation – Personalisation is the method used to merge data and artwork to produce each print individually. For example, membership cards are each addressed to a different individual.

Printing Plate – A metal plate which has inked images involved in the offset plate lithography printing process. Each colour in a printing job requires a separate plate.

Process Colours – The colours which make up full colour printing. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black or CMKY.

Proof – A version of a document produced for the purpose of review before it is printed.

Pantone (PMS) – Spot colours, also known as PMS colours, and officially as Pantone Matching System colours are specific colour formulas that will reproduce accurately in print. Instead of simulating colours by combining primary colours (CMYK), spot (PMS) colours are pre–mixed with existing and published colour formulas.

Pre Press – All procedures (and costs) associated with bringing a job to press, such as design, artwork, proofs, set–up etc.


Ream – 500 Sheets of Paper.

Resolution – refers to the degree of detail of an image. It is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi). A high resolution gives a high quality image and vice versa.


Saddle Stitch – When the pages of a printed document are bound together using metal staples.

Shrink Wrapping – Method of packing printed products etc. by surrounding them with plastic then shrinking by heat.

Score – To impress or indent a mark in the paper, to make folding easier.

Spot Varnish – a way of highlighting an area of a page by selectively applying a gloss varnish to it.

Stock – Paper or other material to be printed.


Tint – Percentage shade of a colour.

TIFF – Tagged Image file Format. A type of file which stores an image.

Typesetting – The assembly of text and pictures on a MAC or PC by keyboard or other digital means.

Trim Marks – See "Crop Marks"


UV Varnish – A special varnish which has undergone an accelerated varnish drying process using ultra violet can be applied to printed matter to enhance its appearance. A gloss UV varnish is commonly used and this gives a very shiny effect.


Web Fed Press – Presses which are fed by paper from a reel as distinct from separate sheets. They are normally used for high volume printing.